The children of the television generation were accused of only having a twenty minute attention span because this was the typical time between commercials. The current generation growing up is now used to switching between multiple screens and there is an argument that they are becoming the distracted generation.
Attribution: Pixabay - geralt
However ask yourself this question, how aware are you of what is going on around you? Try this little challenge. Think of your favourite food and remember what it tastes like. Chances are it is very hard for you to evoke the memory of the smell and texture even though you eat it often. We do many things every day without being fully aware of what we are doing.
The term mindfulness refers to the "attentive awareness of reality, both external and internal". This improved attentiveness helps with self-regulation. That is, when children are more aware of themselves and the situation that they are in, they will often behave more appropriately. It can also help improve academic performance and reduce anxiety and stress.
Here are some mindfulness activities that you can practice with your kids at home. I recommend also practicing mindfulness yourself both as a way of role-modeling for your kids and as a way to deal with your own stress and problems.
The taste test
When was the last time you ate something and focused on what you are eating. Sit down with your kids and try tasting some foods together. Choose foods they might like, don't like and feel ambivalent about. Take bite of each food and just focus on the experience.
Attribution: Pixabay - PublicDomainPictures
Some people find that they change their minds about which foods they like and don't like. Someone even gave up chocolate because when they concentrated on the flavour of it, they realise that they didn't like it. (I tried this with chocolate and I liked it more.)
The younger children are, the more assistance they need with concentrating. Concentration beads are simply a glass bead that they can hold in their hand or even place on their forehead.
Attribution: Pixabay = LJG
Ask young kids to lie down and relax they will usually quickly start to wriggle and fidget. If you give them a concentration bead to hold then it gives them something to focus on.
As a kid, especially on holidays, we would lie on the beach or in the back garden and observe the stars. Observing objects can be a great way to become mindful. Asking kids to concentrate on an object is a great way to make them more present during the moment. Ask them to describe aspects of an object, such as, is it light or heavy, what is it's shape, what is the colour. It is amazing how often we will no notice the true nature of something because we never observed it properly.
Take time out to examine how things make you feel. Maybe take an activity like watching TV, reading a story or playing a sport. When you step outside yourself for a moment and look at how you feel you will become more aware of your feelings. More than that, it helps young kids to learn how to label their feelings more accurately so that they can communicate them.
Attribution: Pixabay - geralt
For example, if you watch a movie, then talk about how the movie made you feel.
Non-dominant hand (left-hand)
This can be a fun game to play with a group of kids (or even adults). Do a common task with your left hand. Maybe draw a picture or write a word. First of all it produces lots of giggles, but to complete the task requires concentration. You become aware and mindful of what has to be done.
Attribution: Pixabay = PublicDomainPictures
Have you ever noticed that many young kids will "act out" in a situation. Yet, when their attention is brought to their behaviour they know what they are doing is wrong. By developing mindfulness they are able to be more aware of both the situation and their behaviour and self-regulate it.